Retired science teacher Meg Martin hasn't been this busy in years.
"Groups of people who are just reaching out, 'What do we do? What do we do?'" she said.
She's been spending the summer taking her clients’ kids on hikes in the Oakland Hills to learn about volcanic rock, dissecting squid and making something called elephant toothpaste out of yeast and hydrogen peroxide. As a former public school teacher, she feels badly for districts that had to cobble together the end of last school year with online lessons.
"I’m coming over for a couple hours and doing science experiments and stuff like that, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities. They want something - they want to plan their curriculum, something really rich," she said.
That's what Geri Landman wants for her incoming first grader.
Both she and her husband are busy doctors and have no idea what will happen when classes start in Oakland on August 10.
"Whether that’s an hour of Zoom class a day and then some assignments assigned, or more or less, we’re not sure at all yet. We’ve had very little indication from the school district what school will actually look like right now," said Landman. "And so that’s one of the reasons we really wanted to hire someone with some educational experience too, who could do a little bit of independent lesson planning."
So they connected with six other families to hire a tutor; posting on alumni message boards, Teach for America boards, Nextdoor and Craigslist.
"Today and this weekend were the first times I’m feeling a little bit settled about, I think school’s going to be good."
But school district officials worry that as wealthy parents form pods, the achievement gap will widen. Some parents have received an email cautioning them about the potential exclusivity of creating pods, and there is a push to make sure that low-income families do not get left behind.